Screening Room: “Godzilla,” “Million Dollar Arm,” “Belle,” “Locke”

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Welcome to the Screening Room, I'm Russ Simmons. Shawn Edwards is working for you at the Cannes Film Festival in France and will be back with us next week.
1) GODZILLA (PG-13)
Warner BrothersGodzilla, the "King of the Monsters," returns in a big budget extravaganza of destruction that plays like a WWE Smackdown on nuclear hormones. Bryan Cranston breaks bad as a physicist who sounds the warning bells years after a reactor meltdown. The old laser breather...AND some other large non-human delinquents...lay waste to San Francisco in an epic turf war. It's cheesy, but it's a high caliber of cheese.

Shawn says, "There have been 29 Godzilla movies. This version is perhaps the best. Suspenseful and well executed."

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags

2) MILLION DOLLAR ARM (PG)
Walt Disney Pictures

John Hamm’s considerable personal charisma elevates the featherweight Disney comedy, “Million Dollar Arm.” It’s based on the true story of a struggling sports agent who started a contest in India to find pitching prospects for Major League Baseball. It’s overlong and filled with all of the clichés you might expect from an inspirational sports movie, but it’s got an extremely likable cast and a feel-good vibe that's hard to knock. “Million Dollar Arm” doesn’t pitch a perfect game, but offers a respectable ERA.

Shawn says, "Part docu expose. Part by the numbers sports drama. Jon Hamm makes it all work with his squared jaw performance."

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags

3) BELLE (PG)
Fox Searchlight

On the heels of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Butler” comes yet another historical film dealing with the black experience, made by black filmmakers. “Belle,” stars newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the illegitimate half-black, half-white daughter of a British aristocrat, raised by her great-uncle Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of Great Britain, in the late 1700s. Her influence helped bring about the end of slavery in England. Mbatha-Raw is very appealing in the title role and she’s given terrific support from a solid cast of British veterans. While perhaps a bit too austere for its own good, “Belle” is a thoughtful and sincere romantic drama that sheds some light on an untold chapter in British history.

Shawn calls it,"beautiful and intriguing. A well-acted and directed classic that's both heart-warming and gripping."

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags

4) LOCKE (R)
A24 Films

Actor Tom Hardy, best known for playing the villain Bane in the last Batman movie, gives a riveting performance in “Locke,” a whip smart drama that succeeds in spite of a very limiting gimmick. Hardy is the only actor on screen and we see his personal and professional lives unravel during one harrowing car ride as he chats with a number of people on his hands-free phone. Although it’s an excruciating ordeal to watch, “Locke” is a very compelling and thought-provoking character study.

RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags

Also opening this week,  the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro star in “God’s Pocket,” a gritty, blue-collar comic drama.

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Follow on Twitter: @fox4kc @RussSimmons1 @sedwardskc

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